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Italian Food…But For Health

I’m one of those people who used to live abroad and doesn’t shut the f*** up about it.

No, in reality, I try not to be… but if anyone mentions anything about Italy around me the floodgates will open.  I’ll be sure to let you know that I spent two years there and they were the best years of my life and the food, the culture, the people, THE WINE… Blah blah blah.

But seriously… The food.
What’s better than splurging on a multi-course Italian dinner? The girl who used to do it 7 days a week says, “NOTHING.” Except maybe… what if  you could do the whole Italian dinner thing and it didn’t feel like a splurge?

Here are a few easy swaps you can make that will give you that Italian food satisfaction without all the too-full-to-function drama.

First things first, Italians love to drink acqua gassata with dinner. Let’s do a fun little swap right off the bat. Drink a Wave Soda instead! All the bubbles with a little more flavor and only 25 extra calories that you certainly won’t regret.

APERITIVO
My favorite thing to eat in Florence was the classic crostini toscani: chicken liver pate on grilled bread. To swap out the dense, carbyness of Italian bread, try it on slices of green apple. The crispness and a touch of sweetness brings a lot of dimension to the fatty, salty pate.

INSALATA
The whole salad as a meal thing has totally escaped italians. You won’t find a ton of options by way of salad on any Italian menu that isn’t meant to cater to Americans… so it’s insalata mista. A simple salad of mixed greens and sometimes, if you’re lucky, some tomato. Forget the creamy dressing and do it the Italian way…salt, pepper, olive oil and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. Like a little extra crunch? Forget the croutons and toss your favorite nuts on instead.

PASTA
I personally think pasta is a staple of every diet. But sometimes you just don’t feel like all the bloat that comes with it. Spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles are a more nutritious and lighter option. If you like your pasta a little softer and your sauce on the sweeter side, go with the squash. If you like a more al dente noodle and are very sauce-centric, zoodles all the way.

SALSA
Pre-made tomato sauces typically have a lot of sugar and carbohydrates. Instead, make your own! It’s simple, fun, and you can tailor it to your taste. Just use a can of tomato puree (stewed tomatoes, if you like it chunky), add whatever spices you like and a splash of red wine. E Buono!

DOLCE
You’ve been so good, honestly I’d just take yourself out for gelato. But if you insist on being a goody goody, try out some frozen fruit or a yummy, sparkling low sugar popsicle!